1865-66: North angered by Black Codes & by Southern racial violence. 1866: Voted for radical Republicans in the midterm election of 1866. 1866 - mid-1870s: Congress would be controlled by “radicals” Republicans.
Radical Republican Congress would be architect of Reconstruction, enacting the following legislation:
Under Military Reconstruction Act, biracial constitutional conventions & popular elections were held for first time in history.
256 black delegates sent to the various state constitutional conventions in 1867. Blacks served in every state convention. These constitutions were among the most progressive constitutions ever written:
Committed states to the establishment of social welfare agencies (like asylums & hospitals)
Reformed criminal law
Changed tax structures so that landholders paid their share of tax burden
Guaranteed biracial democracy
After drafting new constitutions, Southern states were allowed back into the Union. They held elections for Congress in 1868. Elections marred by violence. Union military in the South to protect white & black Republicans.
Vigilante violence did not end. White supremacists intimidated black voters & their white political allies openly—in the form of “rifle clubs.”
Northern public opinion was sympathetic to freedmen for quite some time. But Southern white persistence gradually wore down Northern resolve. President Grant refused requests to send troops to put down vigilantism in Mississippi in 1875, for example, noting that to do so might lose the close election for Governor of Ohio in 1876. “What good is winning Mississippi,” he asked, “if we lose Ohio?”